Sequel to The Races
It's been a year since we've heard from the gals in Denver. So far, everything has been going great. Melanie and Vin are having the time of their lives, racing General Lee 2 and playing with their new pup, Jesse. Vin picked him out because of his calm, collected nature and Mel named him Jesse after Uncle Jesse in the Dukes of Hazzard. Vin swore sometimes that girl called out 'Bo' in her sleep. One night he heard her mumble, "Oh Bo! You're so sweet, giving me the General Lee as a weddin' present! You're the sweetest man a girl could ask for." They'd been together for a year, but more like three if you count the unofficial days when they were "just friends".
How are Ezra and Ace you ask? Well, that couple is headed for the big time, race time I mean. Ezra and the jag got a sponsorship from some high maintenance brewery in Boston. He turned it down 'cause if it meant he had to leave his girl, he wouldn't go. The team from Boston said they'd come to him and that they did. They got him a shine for the jag, a race car of Ace's own, and a big trailer with pretty jewels on it. Ok, not pretty jewels but it might as well be, it looks like a king's vault just looking at the outside! It's mighty purtty as them backwoods Duke Boys might say. But anyhow, on with the story.
It was a sunny warm August morning as Melanie got out of bed. She noticed that Vin had already gotten up. She could hear the impact wrench running as she walked into the kitchen. Well, seems like the General needs some improvements. She thought to herself as she made breakfast. Vin walked in sometime later to the smell of bacon and eggs.
"Oh, Honey. You didn't have to," he said with a smile.
"I know, but I wanted to. There is a difference my dear," Mel said kissing his cheek.
"Now go wash up. I don't want your dirty hands all over everything."
"No?" Vin asked, putting his greasy arms around her and squeezing her tight.
"VIN!!! You are hopeless!" she squealed and wriggled her way out of his arms.
"You're so lucky I still got my pj's on!" she yelled at him as he walked to the bathroom to wash up.
"Oh, C'mon now honey. You know you like it! Being dirty, and smellin' like axel grease and gasoline. I know you do! You can't hide it from me!" Vin called to her over the running water. He laughed, once Mel had said to him that she wished they made a racing perfume. One that smelled like racing exhaust and fuel. He said that the likely hood of it actually being developed was slim to none and better yet; the fumes and fuel not disintegrating your body when you put it on was even more unlikely. All she said was, "A girl can wish can't she?" and put on that sweet smile of hers that made him melt right to his knees. He walked back out into the kitchen and Mel had already changed into her 'Daisy Duke' car clothes. A tight pair of blue jeans, a low bottomed t-shirt and her hair pulled back as to not get in the way of anything.
"Working on the General Honey?" she asked as she poured him some orange juice.
"Yeah, he needs some rotation and an oil change," Vin said between mouthfuls of egg and bacon.
"Well, let me help. You know how good I am." She flashed her eyes at him.
"You know you want to. Give into the want Vin, Give in!" she chorused as she danced around him in the kitchen.
"Alright already!! I will! You change the oil and I'll finish the rotation. Then we'll fill him up with fluids."
"Sounds good, I'll meet you out there," Mel said to him as she walked out to the shop.
She got out there and immediately got to work. She wanted to have the oil changed and finish the tire rotation before Vin got back out there. She nearly stumbled over Jesse as she made her way to get the drain pan.
"Sorry boy. Didn't see you there. Momma didn't mean it," she said to the pup that looked at her with big brown eyes. That pup loved her and followed her everywhere; she even caught him trying to follow her into the shower! Even Vin wasn't allowed that privilege. She loved that little guy to death; he even got to sleep in her bed, when Vin was away for a weekend or such.
He didn't like it when the dog slept on his side of the bed. 'It should be on the floor by the foot of the bed, like a normal dog.' Vin would tell her. Sometimes she just ignored him. This got her into even more bad news, once he tried to put oil in her coffee pot 'cause she wouldn't tell him what was wrong with her when she went to the doctor. Truth be told nothing was wrong with her; she just wanted to make him sweat a little. Mel had just finished the oil change and was rotating the tires when Vin finally came back out.
"Sorry it took so long honey. Ezra called and said he and Ace are coming over for some play time. We'd better get the General up and running again," he said as he went to get some replenished fluids. About twenty minutes later; after the General was fixed and replenished, Ezra and Ace showed up at the house.
"Well, look at you two, all dolled up in Vin's favorite wear. Grease and gasoline, I swear you two were made for each other," Ace said to Melanie as she walked over and hugged her grease covered friend. Ezra was more inclined to shake her hand and that he did. Vin had a trick up his sleeve just to get Ezra dirty. He took his hand, which was covered in grease and laid it on Ezra's shoulder.
"Hi, Ez. How you doing?" he asked slyly, trying not to laugh as he waited for Ezra's response.
"I am doing exceptionally well Mr. Tanner. Thank you," Ezra said, just then noticing the black stain on his good leather jacket.
"Mr. TANNER! I ought to tan your hide for this! This jacket cost me 100 dollars! I hope you're willing to pay the damages!" Ezra said his face red with anger.
"Ezra, haven't you noticed? Your jacket is black; the grease fits in just fine," Vin said grinning from ear to ear.
"I'll fit you just fine, with a stick up your "
"Now boys, Play nice or your mommies are going to send you on time outs," Ace said to both men who were ready to grab at each others throats. Melanie grabbed Vin and pushed him into the General.
"Vin, you ARE going to pay for the damages aren't you?" She looked at him sternly.
"Yes, M'am. As sure as I'll be your husband next week, I'll pay for the damages," Vin said laughing; Mel looked at him in bewilderment. She hoped he was partially serious.
"Now go apologize to Ezra and tell him you'll pay for the damages done to his jacket."
Vin walked over to Ezra and apologized, and just barely missing the left hook that came at him from Ezra's side of the conversation.
"Whoa now! EZRA! Stop that!! I don't want to have to clean up Vin's blood or yours when I knock your head off for being so stupid!" Ace yelled at Ezra.
"Ok, ok. I promise I won't spill any of Mr. Tanner's blood, well not now anyway," Ezra said glaring at Vin.
"Not ever Ezra. Do you understand me? I can talk to Mr. Willmont about this little dispute and have your sponsorship taken in a heartbeat. You don't want that do you?"
"No, not at all honey. I promise, I'll be good."
Ace hung her head, sometimes it was hard keeping grown men in line. She didn't know how she and Mel did it. It must be some magical woman thing. Really, their boys were real good. Never hurt no one and always treated them nicely. The girls had nothing to complain about really, except for those few fights they had between themselves. Like this one that just happened minutes ago. In a few minutes the boys would be back to there old selves, playing around with each other and making stupid comments about how one was better than the other. Mel and Ace watched and laughed, they were like school boys trying to out do each other for the best toy. It amused the girls. They were just glad they didn't drink and fight, then it would be much worse than it was.
Melanie sat outside of the garage on some tires and thought awhile. How she missed Chris and the others. They'd been gone for two weeks now, on some kind of secret mission. Josiah told her the night before he left that she had nothing to worry about and that God would protect her and Vin while he was away. Chris came that afternoon and said that he would be extra careful and as long as he got that nephew he was promised a few weeks back, he'd come back to Denver in one piece. Vin had given Chris a look and only winked back at Melanie. Buck was there earlier that same evening and said no matter what happened to him he'd always be there in her heart along with the rest of the guys. JD gave her a small computer disk and on it had some pictures of all of them together the summer before and had "Next to you, Next to me" by Shenandoah playing in the background. She cried a little and she prayed that God would keep their boys safe.
"Baby, you ok?" Vin asked her wrapping his strong arms around her.
"No, I miss the guys," she said as she sobbed into his chest.
"I know babe, we all do. They'll come back soon, I promise," he whispered to her, brushing her hair away from her face.
"I love you babe, I want you to know that."
"I already do."
"Do you really? Seriously, do you know how much I love you? How when I wake up in the morning and see you next to me it breaks my heart to go to work sometimes. Or how you are so sweet to me and the boys. They all love you, JD, Josiah, Chris; all of 'em. They'd die without you I bet. That's why Chris keeps telling me to hold on to you. He thinks I'm going to lose you."
"How do you know?" He knelt in front of her.
"Just so I won't ever have to lose you, will you marry me?" he asked her holding a silver washer up to her face.
"Oh Vin, you're so silly." She playfully slapped his cheek and kissed him.
"Of course I'll marry you, you old dog."
"Old DOG?! Who you calling old dog missy? I do believe you are one mangy cat! Always leaving your stuff lay around. I think you're more of a pig then me some days."
"Well, just wait until I tell Chris what you been calling me. He'll tan your hide for sure! He doesn't like it when you talk to me that way, Vin Tanner," she said running from his outstretched arms, ready to grab her and swing her around.
Even though they were playing around and having fun, Vin still couldn't help that gut feeling he had about marrying Melanie. He knew he would some day, he just didn't know when. Meanwhile, while those two were having a ball, Ezra and Ace were having a duck. Ace was trying to polish 'Big Blue' her race car and Ezra was vigorously trying to rub out the grease stain on his leather jacket.
"Now, Honey, I told you I'll take it to the cleaners on Friday."
"No, that is quite alright. I'll just clean it myself."
"No you won't with all that scrubbing you'll wear a hole right through it. Now put down that jacket and come help me polish, just don't rub a hole in 'Big Blue' or I'll rub a hole in you."
"Alright. I'll help you, on one condition."
"Now, Ezra, you know I don't like it when you talk like that."
"No, it's honest and good I promise."
"What is it?"
"You have to let me drive 'Big Blue'"
"No way! Not on your life bud. You are not coming near my baby. You have your baby, I have mine and until we make one of our own, you're just stuck with yours."
"Why Ace, I'm surprised at you. I didn't know you felt that way."
"The 'we should have a baby' way."
"I didn't say that."
"Yes you did. You said, 'Until we have one of our own.' Meaning you want to have a child."
"Yes, maybe I do. But not right now, and certainly not with you. Not the way you have been acting. By the way, I really meant when we have a car together, one we share and race together."
She scoffed at him. Ezra looked somewhat hurt and picked up a clean rag and started to polish 'Big Blue'. He wished he hadn't said what he said and hadn't done what he'd done earlier. Now he felt like Ace no longer loved him. Well the next morning as they were loading up the trucks no one spoke to each other. Well, only Ezra and Ace weren't on speaking terms. Melanie sang along with her favorite Shenandoah song, "I want to be loved like that." and Vin tapped his fingers on the wheel. Melanie looked over at him and thought, 'My daddy used to do the same thing. In fact, he still does. Isn't that funny?' Vin looked at her and smiled. Even thought they had a funny night last night, he still couldn't shake that gut felling of his.
Ace sighed, she thought it over and decided Ezra could drive 'Big Blue' if he wanted.
"Ezra, if you really want I'll let you drive 'Big Blue' maybe the sponsors will get a kick out of you in my car and get you on a tour type of contract where you tour the country and race in different states."
"Alright, let's try it and see if it works. If it doesn't that's alright. I promise, I won't hurt 'Big Blue' or race it any harder than I race the jag." Ezra signaled a cross over his heart. A tradition they all knew well. They all did it at some point in their childhoods and sometimes, only when they were together did they use it. Ace agreed and reluctantly handed the keys to Ezra, hoping he wouldn't hurt her car too much.
Vin looked over at Melanie; he still couldn't shake the marriage feeling. Maybe Chris had rubbed off on him too much. Chris was always saying how marriage is the greatest thing, although he often times only told Vin in the quiet of his own home. Chris wasn't really public about Sarah and Adam, but he was beginning to open up a little more now. Only a little, you couldn't press Chris, he'd clam up and not say a word.
Vin was adjusting to that, just listening and not asking too many questions. Buck and he talked one day and Buck said that Chris would come around soon and he'd be alright. 'Sometimes, it just takes awhile to get over losing someone.' Vin thought to himself. He couldn't imagine what Chris had been going through all these years. He switched the cd, John Schneider's greatest hits. One of his favorites. John had a voice that made a woman swoon; he watched carefully the expression on Mel's face as John sang "Country Girls". He smiled, her lips moved, she was singing along quietly trying not to be noticed. Vin knew her weakness was John and that any moment now she'd be sleeping. He smiled, he remembered when he played it for her after a long night of partying and she'd fallen asleep in his arms softly whispering the words to "Take the long way home".
How he loved to hear her sing, her voice was beautiful. Now he on the other hand, couldn't keep a tune if his pride depended on it. He just wasn't made for singing. The first time he ever sang was for Melanie in the living room one night, she made him sing "Midnight in Montgomery" by Alan Jackson. It wasn't so bad, if he could've kept the tone of Alan's voice in his own head and tried to match it. He was so off he wondered why the glass wasn't breaking. It was terrible. Melanie felt bad and insisted he sit and listen to her. She sang "Let's go to Vegas" by Faith Hill, "Looking for Something in Red" by Lorrie Morgan, and "The Dukes of Hazzard theme" by Waylon Jennings. The last one she did for fun, she loved Waylon as a kid and loved singing him.
He looked over and noticed she was sleeping. Perfect timing, he'd just pulled into the driveway. Now he'd have to carry her to the house and into bed. He'd parked the truck and walked around to the passenger side. Effortlessly he picked her up into his arms and shut the door with his hip. He almost dropped the keys on the way to the door and almost stepped on Jesse on his way in the house. Carefully he walked up the stairs and into the bedroom. He lay Melanie on the bed and covered her in her "Blanky" as she called the blanket her grandma made her when she was 16. He knew she wouldn't mind sleeping in her clothes. She'd done it so many times as a kid it didn't phase her anymore.
He ran to the truck and got the cd out; he put it on in the living room and made it circulate the whole house. It went from room to room; the new audio system he'd purchased was amazing. It came in handy too when need be. Vin sat down on the couch and pulled out the black box he had in his jacket pocket. He sighed as he opened it, a gold band with a diamond in the center and her birthstone and his on either side of it. Melanie's engagement ring, he meant to purpose tonight actually last night but he never got the nerve. Tomorrow, he'd do it tomorrow before breakfast.
+ + + + + + +
The next morning Vin woke up in the living room, totally confused on where he was. Then he'd realized he'd still had the ring in his hand. Well, in the box on the couch. He hoped Melanie was still sleeping. He got up and walked over to the stairs where he heard the shower running. He listened as it turned off, the walked up the stairs. 'Give her about five minutes and she'll be dressed' he thought to himself. He waited patiently outside the bathroom door as he heard the knob turn. He took a deep breath. Melanie nearly had a heart attack when she seen him there in the doorway.
"VIN!! Holy Crap!" she said holding her hand to her heart. Vin took his hand and covered hers.
"Mel, I need to ask you something and it is very important," he said looking at her seriously. She was afraid something happened to him or one of the boys.
"What is it?" she asked as she watched him get down on one knee. He heard her breath catch as he knelt in front of her.
"Will you marry me?" he asked smiling as he showed her the ring. He watched her face as she examined it, inside the band was engraved, 'I love you always. Love, Vin.' He kept smiling as he slipped it on her finger. He watched as tears streamed down her face.
"Oh Vin! Of course I will!" Then suddenly her face went grief stricken.
"Did you really purpose to me that night when you took that washer and put it on my hand?" she asked inquisitively.
"Kind of, it was practice," he said winking at her before he took her to the kitchen to call Ace.
While Melanie called Ace, Vin got on the computer and checked his e-mail. He had gotten some from Chris, saying that he was alright and so were the rest of the guys and that the mission was almost over. He'd gotten some from Jake, Mel's cousin who'd said that if at all possible could he borrow the General. Vin replied with a very stern and very capitalized no. he laughed as he sent it. There were only two people allowed to drive the General without his being there in the car and they were he and Melanie. Melanie came shrieking in the living room and sat herself right on vin's lap with a contented sigh.
"I love you" she said kissing his cheek.
"I love you too" he replied.
"You have e-mail," he said picking her up as he stood so she could use the chair and check her e-mail in peace.
Mel browsed a few from friends, one from dad, two from Jake but they were stupid. Then she'd almost deleted one, had it not registered in her mind as J.D.'s new e-mail address. She opened it.
As you probably figured out it's J.D. I just thought I'd e-mail you and tell you that the boys and I are fine and that we are coming home today. : I know you've either fallen out of your chair or have tears streaming your face, please don't cry Mel. It makes me feel bad. Anyhow, I hope you've told Vin because if I know Chris, he probably left out that we're coming home today. Buck has a tiny sprain in his ankle but if you ask him it's like the world landed on it. He tripped over some lady. Go figure. But the lady and he aren't dating, thank the lord! Well, I will close now with a hug and a great big smile for ya. :
Melanie shouted she'd never been so happy in her life. Except for five minutes ago. She ran to get Vin.
"VIN! VIN! The boys are coming home!!! They're coming home today!"
"What?! Today?" Funny Chris hadn't mentioned anything to him. J.D. must've said something to her, he always talked to her. But that was J.D. Mel was like his sister.
"I've got to plan a party or a cookout," Melanie said as she hurriedly rushed out to the truck.
"Babe, I'll be right back! I love you!!" she called to him.
"O.K," he called back. Vin scrambled to put the house in order. Not much to do but their clothes from the weekend was all over and the place looked a little messy. He'd pulled out the extra table and set out the placements. 9 people. That was a lot of people for a small farm house kitchen. Then Vin thought to put the table outside, being it was summer and beautiful out. Not even a half hour after the commotion did the boys return. Melanie had made it back fifteen minutes before they did and Vin had already grilled up some hamburgers and brats.
Melanie ran and threw her arms around Josiah. He smiled and welcomed her into his arms. 'Siah was like her father, he'd been there for her when her father died and when her life was going down the tubes. He brought her back to the world of God and prayer. She'd never forget it.
"Papa 'Siah," Mel said as she broke their embrace.
Josiah smiled and kissed her forehead. She was two years younger than Vin and he thought that those two should've married a long time ago. Next in line was Chris, not that he had a choice, he was just standing behind the two when they broke their embrace.
"Chris" She softly said, as if she would break him if she said his name aloud. He smiled and put his arms around her.
"How are you darling'?" he asked looking into her blue eyes.
"Just fine, look at my new ring," she said as she flashed her left hand in front of his bright green eyes. She watched as he carefully inspected the engagement ring.
"Well, looks like we got a marriage coming soon," he said loudly for the others to hear.
"WHAT? Who's getting married? It isn't me that's for sure," Buck said as he limped toward Melanie, wincing as he did.
"Hi baby-doll. Vin been treatin' you nicely? Or am I gonna have to beat him?" he asked sarcastically.
"No, he's going to marry me," Melanie said to him with a smile. Buck nearly fell over had Nathan not caught him.
"Oh Nathan, it is so wonderful to see you again. I'd gotten so used to seeing you every day then you went on the mission and I got so sad. We have got a lot of catching up to do," Melanie said to him. Nathan and she always talked about woman stuff, something she could do without having to call Ace all the time. She did discuss it with her, but sometimes Nathan was closer to home.
"Good to see you to honey," Nathan replied as he lifted buck off of his shoulder.
"J.D.!" She ran to him and nearly toppled him over when she'd hugged him. She missed him so much. He was like her brother and friend all in one. Not to mention confidant, if one of the other six wasn't available.
"Hi Mel. Did you get my e-mail? I was afraid you wouldn't."
"No I got it. Thanks a lot."
"HEY! What are standing here gabbin' for? Let's eat!" Vin called as he walked the burgers and brats over to the table.
Josiah stood as the others sat and bowed their heads.
"Dear Lord, we thank you for this food, our friendship and the newly coming marriage between our two friends. May they find true and ever lasting happiness in your house and the house of everlasting love. Amen."
"Amen," came the eight replies.